My name is Sam Vaknin, and I am the author of Malignant Self-Love, Narcissism Revisited.
The following piece of short fiction describes the process of swinging.
Howard Kahneman, a scammer, lures his prey, infiltrates his victim's mind, converts him to the cause in a shared psychosis, tuning and watch the process unfolding.
Sueded in luminosity, we steer with measured competence our amber drinks in long-stemmed glasses.
You're weighing my offer, and I'm waiting for your answer with a hushed endurance.
The objects are soft, the lobby is luxurious, as it fits five-star hotels.
I'm not tense, I've anticipated your response even before I made my move.
And soon, your temples sheathed in perspiration. You use the outfit's thick paper napkins to wipe it off, and I'm watching.
You loosen your tie. You pretend to be immersed in calculations. You express strident dissatisfaction, and I feign recoil as though intimidated by your loudness.
Withdrawing to my second line of events, I surrender to your simulated rage.
The thighs are here, the gestures, the infinitesimal movements that you cannot control.
And I lurk, I know the definite look, that imperceptible twitch, the inevitability of your surrender.
I'm a conman, and you are my victim.
Swindle is unfolding here and now, in this very atrium, amid all the extravagance.
I'm selling your soul, and I'm collecting the change, and sharpened like a raw nerve, firing impulses to you, receiving yours.
An electrical and chemical dialogue consisting of your smelly sweat, my scented exudation. I permeate your cracks. I broker an alliance with your fears, your pains, defense compensatory mechanisms.
You see, I know you. I know you.
And now I've got to meld us into one, as dusk gives way to nights.
You, trust me, as you do yourself. For now, I am nothing less than you.
I am you. Having adopted your particular gesticulations, I even nod approvingly with every mention of your family.
I know you do not like me. You sense the danger.
Your nostrils flare. Your eyes are muck. Your hands are so restless.
You know me for a bilker. You realize I'll break your heart.
And you know, and I know, that we both are choiceless.
You comprehend this.
You see, it's not really about money.
Emotions are at stake.
I share your depths of loneliness and pain.
Sitting opposed, I see the child in you, the adolescent.
I discern the pleading sparkle in your eyes, your shoulders stooping in the very second that you've decided to succumb to me.
I'm hurting for what I do to you, and I'm hurting for what I am about to do to you.
My only consolation is the inexorability of nature, my nature, your nature, the world's nature, in which we find ourselves and not of our choice.
And still, we are here, you know?
So, I empathize with you. I empathize with you without speech, without motion, your solitary sadness, your anguish, your fears.
I am your only friend. I am the monopolist of your invisible cries, your inner hemorrhage of salty tears, the tissue scar that you have become that has become your being.
And like me, you are the product of uncounted blows, which you sometimes crave.
I've been abused, you've been abused. Being abused is being understood. It's having some meaning, forming a narrative.
Without abuse, your life is nothing but an anecdotal stream of randomness.
And I deal the final overwhelming coup de gras that will transform the torn sheets of your biography to a plot which will imbue your life with meaning.
It isn't every day someone needs a cheat.
Such confident encounters can render everything extreme.
Don't give it up. It is a gift of life not to be frivolously dispensed with. It is a test of worthiness.
I think that you qualify, and I am the structure, and I am the target that you have been searching for and seeking.
And here I am.
And now, we are bound by money, and we are bound by blood.
In our common veins flows the same alliance that dilates our pupils.
We hail from one beginning. We separate it or later unite again, at once, at this hotel, this late, and you exclaim, I need to trust you like I do not trust another soul.
You beseech you not to betray your faith, perhaps not so explicitly, but both your eyes are moist, reflecting your vulnerability and my advantage.
So, I gravely radiate my utter guarantee of splendid outcomes.
No hint of treason here, concurrently unclotting your emotional demise.
A true request, not mine.
It is an act of enmity, of mercy, to rid you of the very cause of your infirmity.
I am the instrument of your delivery, your liberation. I will deprive you of your ability to feel, to trust, to believe.
When we diverge, I will have molded you anew. You will be much less susceptible, much more immune, much stronger, the essence of resilience.
This is my gift to you, and you are surely grateful in advance.
Thus, when you demand my fealty, you say, do not forget our verbal understanding, and when I vow my loyalty I answer, I shall not forget to stab you in the back.
And now, the term is completed and understood.
Let's go to the transaction.
I study you. I train you to ignore my presence and argue with yourself with the utmost sincerity.
I teach you not to resent your weaknesses, so you admit to them, and I record all your confessions to be used against you to your benefit at a future date.
The new unit of defenses, I leave you wounded by embezzlement, called contemptible exposure, and in the meantime, it's only warmth and safety.
Intimacy of empathy, the profinquity of mutual understanding, all these I provide, I provide.
I only ask of you one thing, the fullest trust, the willingness to yield.
I remember having seen the following in an art house movie. It was kind of a test.
To fall, straggle you from a high embankment, and to believe that I will be there to catch you and break your little plunge. I'm telling you that I'll be there.
Yet, you know, I will not.
Your craving is none of my concern.
I only undertook to bring you to the brink, and this promise I fulfilled.
And now it's up to you to climb it.
It's up to you to tumble into the depths of your own abyss, not mine.
I must not halt your crash.
You have to recompose.
It is my contribution to the transformation that metastasized in you long before we met.
I do not feel responsible, or guilty, or blameworthy.
But you are not yet at the stage of internalizing these veracities.
You still naively link fame, geniality, to constancy, intimacy and confidence in me and my deeds, proximity and full disclosure.
You are so terrified and mutilated that you come devalued. You cost me merely a whiskey tumbler and a compendium of ordinary words, how cheap you are.
One tier is enough to alter your allegiances.
You are malleable to the point of having no identity.
You crave my touch, my affection, and I crave your information, your unbridled faith.
So here is my friendship, here is my caring, my tenderness, my amity, here is a hug.
And your parent, and your shrink, and your body, your family, whatever you want.
So go the words of this in the audible dialogue between us.
Just give me your utter blind trust, but limit it to one point only, your money or your life, as you prefer.
I need to know about your funds, the riddles of your ballroom, commercial secrets, your skeletons, some intimate detail, a fear, a resurgent hatred, the envy that consumes you.
I don't presume to be your confidant.
Our sharing is confined to the pecuniary.
Don't worry, I lull you into a false sense of security that comes with much reduced demands.
But you're an experienced businessman. You surely recognize my tactics. You employ them too, from time to time.
Still, you're both seduced and tempted, though on condition of maintaining independent thinking.
Well, almost independent.
There's a tiny crack in your cerebral armor, a chink. And I'm there to thrust right through it and into your heart.
I'm ready to habituate you. I'm ready to inhabit you. I'm in full control, let's say.
So where's the threat? And truly, where's the threat?
There's none. There's only certainty. The certitude I offer you throughout our game.
Sometimes I even venture, I say, I'm a crook to be avoided, and you listen with your occidental manners, head tilted obliquely.
And when I'm finished warning you, you say, but where the danger lies, my trust in you is limited indeed, but it is there.
So I lurk, awaiting your capitulation, inhabiting the margins, the twilight zone to excrete in paranoia.
I'm a viral prevelation, invading avaricious membranes, preaching a gospel of death and resurrection, your death, your rising from the dead.
Assuming the cultures of my host, I abandon you, deformed in dissolution.
And there is no respite, not even for a day, not even for a minute.
You are addicted to my nagging, to my penetrating gaze, instinctive sympathy, your haunter, and I don't let go.
You're engulfed, kund.
I'm a soulmate of eerie insight, unselfish acumen, your body's nature.
I visionate myself for your minutest needs. I thrive on servitude.
I leave no doubt that my self-love is exceeded only by my love for you.
So I'm useful, and you are a user. I'm available, and you avail yourself.
But haven't you heard that there are no free lunches?
My restaurant is classy. The price is most exorbitant. The invoices accumulate with every smile I give, every word of reassurance, every anxious inquiry as to your health, every sacrifice I make, however insubstantial and imaginary.
I keep accounts in my unstated books, and you rely on me for every double entry.
And the voices are instilling you.
You say to yourself, he gives so much of himself through, though largely unrewarded.
And you feel ashamed. You feel compelled to compensate.
It is a seed of Trojan guilt. I harp on it by mentioning others who deprive me.
I count on you to do the rest.
There's nothing more potent than egotistic love combined with a raging culpability.
In your mind, to do it is a wish. It is your wish that I embody and reify and ultimately possess.
And so the vice is tightened.
Now it's time to ponder whether to feed on you at once or to scavenge your remains.
You are already dying.
And in your mental carcass, in your cadaver, I am grown, an alien, I'm invoking your immunity as I want to do, and doing it will further make you ill.
Conflict will erupt between your white cells and your black cells and twin abodes of your awakened feelings.
You hope against all odds that I'm a soulmate.
And how does it feel?
The solitude. It feels horrible. Few days with me, and you cannot recall how it was. But I cannot remember how it feels to be together.
You cannot recall the solitude. I cannot recall our togetherness. I cannot wave my loneliness, my staunch companion.
When I'm with you, eat process.
And you must pay for that.
I have no choice but to have scone with your possessions, lest I remain bereft.
With utmost ethics, I keep you well informed of these dynamics, and you acknowledge my fragility, which makes you deserous to solve my wounds.
It is your fault, and your fault only, that you are here.
But I maintain the benefit of your surprise, the flowing motion.
Always at an advantage over you, because you are interchangeable.
I, on the other hand, cannot be replaced, as far as you are concerned.
You are a loyal subject of your psychic state, while I am a denizen of the eternal hunting grounds.
There's no limits there, no boundaries, or even nostrils, quivering at the game, a surging musculature, the gully fruits, the scent of decadence, the rush of adrenally.
Sometimes, I admit, the prey becomes a predator, but only for a while.
Literally, it's possible.
You might still turn the tables on me, but you don't want to.
You crave so to be hunted.
The orgiastic moment of my proverbial bullets, penetrating your willing flesh.
The rape, the violation, the metaphoric blood and love, you are no longer satisfied with any compromises but your own disintegration.
You want to die having experienced this eruption once, this climax.
For what is life without such infringement, if not near ripening, concluding in deep decay?
What sets us, men, apart from beasts, is our ability to self-deceive and swindle others.
The rogue's advantage of a quarry is his capacity to have his lies transmuted till you, the victim, the prey, believes them true.
And so, I trek the unpaved pathways between my truth and your delusions.
What am I?
Am I a fiend? Am I perhaps an angel? A weak, disintegrating apparition or a triumphant growth?
I am devoid, devoid of conscience in my own reflection.
It is a cause for mirth.
My complex is binary.
To fight, to flight.
I am well or ill. It should have been this way or I was led astray.
I am the blinding murkiness that never sets, not even when I sleep.
It overwhelms me, too, but also renders me farsighted.
It taught me my survival.
Strike before you're struck. Abandon before you're trashed.
Control before you're subjugated.
Okay, so what do you have to say to all this now?
I told you everything. You haven't said a word.
Perhaps you knew it all before.
You grasp how dire my need is for your blood, your pain, the traumatic coma that will follow.
They say that one's death bequews another's life.
It is the most profound destination to real existence through your pining duplicate.
It is an intercourse. Physically I'm plump and short. My face is uncontrived and smiling.
When I'm serious, I'm told I'm like a battered and deserted child.
This provokes in you an ancient cuddling instinct. When I am proximate, your body and your soul are unrestrained.
I watch you kindly in the artificial lighting of this magnific vestibule, bounces off my glasses.
My eyes are cradled in blackened pouches of withered skin.
I draw your gaze by sighing sadly and rubbing them with wary hands.
And you incline your body.
You gulp this fecal libation.
You want to shield me. You become protective.
And you sign the document. You sign the document.
And then leaning back, you shut exhausted eyes.
There is no doubt. You have realized your error. You know it's a mistake. There is nothing, absolutely nothing you can do about it.
The exhilaration of the prey. The exhilaration of the heart.
It's so too late. The document lies there. It's ready for the ferry.
But you refrain. You do not touch it. You will not do it.
Instead, you ask another drink perhaps. And I smile. My chubby cheeks angelic. My wired glasses sparkle.
And I say, new thinking.